A spectacular three-metre-wide painting of the astronomer Copernicus is to be shown in the UK for the first time, to showcase a superstar 19th-century artist little known outside his native country.
The National Gallery said Jan Matejko is widely regarded as the national painter of Poland, revered for his huge, minutely detailed depictions of key moments in the nation’s history.
His masterpiece, Astronomer Copernicus, or Conversations with God, is his portrait of Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th-century astronomer who transformed our understanding of the solar system.
It hangs in the senate chamber of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, from where it rarely leaves. The National Gallery announced on Monday that it would display the painting in the spring in a free exhibition introducing British audiences to Matejko.